Use China as buf­fer, says Mar­shall

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - News -

Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Dr Don Mar­shall has re­peated his call for Gov­ern­ment to seek Chi­nese or Asia In­vest­ment In­fras­truc­ture Bank fund­ing to aug­ment its ar­range­ment with the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF).

He was speak­ing as a pan­el­list in a dis­cus­sion on The IMF And Bar­ba­dos Agree­ment And Its Im­pli­ca­tions For Our So­cial And Po­lit­i­cal Lives, or­gan­ised by the UWI Cave Hill Cam­pus’ Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence Stu­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion and held on Wed­nes­day night at UWI’S Law Lec­ture Theatre.

Mar­shall said that “re­gard­less of the type of pro­gramme that we are in with the Fund, Bar­ba­dos needs a buf­fer to aug­ment what we al­ready have with the IMF in re­la­tion to its US$290 mil­lion and pos­si­ble ac­cess to other loans from other part­ners”.

He ac­knowl­edged the Bar­ba­dos Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Trans­for­ma­tion Plan (BERT) ap­proved by the IMF was geared to­wards trans­form­ing the econ­omy through pro­mo­tion of cul­tural in­dus­tries, re­new­able en­ergy and new sec­tors, but main­tained that fi­nanc­ing from other sources was needed to cover those ar­eas.

“We need a buf­fer and right now, it has to come from an in­tel­li­gent plan put be­fore ei­ther the Asia In­vest­ment In­fras­truc­ture Bank . . ., the Chi­nese Im­port/ex­port Agency and other state-owned en­ter­prises com­ing out of China.”

Mar­shall said: “This Gov­ern­ment must find a buf­fer for the IMF re­gard­less of who brought us here or what got us here. We are here and we can­not suc­ceed fol­low­ing the dic­tates of an IMF pro­gramme over the next four years, wait­ing and twid­dling our thumbs for fi­nance to come from cap­i­tal mar­kets or from some bene­fac­tors, to trans­form our econ­omy.”

He con­tended that not­with­stand­ing re­cent “western pro­pa­ganda” about the dan­ger of re-coloni­sa­tion, Bar­ba­dos did not have to sur­ren­der its sovereignty in any deal en­tered into with China.

“I think Bar­ba­dos can blaze a trail in how you han­dle the re­la­tions with the IMF recog­nis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to deal with China, with­out de­fault­ing on its sovereignty.

“We must act in­tel­li­gently if we are go­ing to en­gage the Chi­nese. If we are go­ing to en­gage them in a Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, it has to prin­ci­pally drive the trans­for­ma­tion of our econ­omy that BERT speaks to.”

The UWI aca­demic added that “we can­not be lim­ited to a con­ver­sa­tion about what the IMF will do on the fis­cal side of things and bring­ing about greater mar­ket re­forms, be­cause fi­nan­cial sec­tor en­hance­ment is not the re­cov­ery Bar­ba­dos ex­actly needs. It needs to find a new fil­lip to re­place losses in the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness sec­tor”.

He con­ceded that Bar­ba­di­ans did not “elect” the IMF, but said “they are here and we have to find a way to nav­i­gate against the rapids of what will be an in­creas­ing so­cial re­ac­tion to the strin­gen­cies and con­di­tion­al­i­ties of the fund”.

Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Dr Don Mar­shall (right) in dis­cus­sion with Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Fi­nance Ryan Straughn af­ter Wed­nes­day night’s panel dis­cus­sion.

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